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Doctor, health official among suspected COVID-19 deaths in Abyan

Amid ongoing clashes between government and STC forces and the absence of international aid, Abyan has virtually no prevention measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Disease outbreaks killed at least 15 people including a health official and a doctor died within a 48-hour period in Yemen’s southern Abyan governorate, where the internationally recognized government and the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) have battled for more than two weeks.

The director of Office of Public Health and Population in Abyan’s Mudiyah district, Nasser Jakhba, died on Tuesday in Ataq hospital in neighboring Shabwa governorate after suffering from a severe fever and difficulty breathing, according to a medical source. Shortly before Jakhba’s death, the director of the laboratory department in Mahnaf Hospital in Abyan’s Lawdar district, Saleh Al-Qutaish, died after exhibiting similar symptoms.

While both Jakhba and Qutaish showed coronavirus-like symptoms and had access to the largest hospitals in central Abyan, neither was tested due to the absence of screening devices and kits in the governorate, where multiple disease outbreaks – including chikungunya, malaria and dengue fever – are afflicting the population.

Within the past week, five others in Mudiyah died after suffering from severe fever and shortness of breath, while at least 10 additional people died in the villages and towns of Lawdar, according to local residents.

The health authorities have not established the causes of any of these deaths.

Military clashes between government forces and the STC continue around Abyan’s capital Zinjibar. Combined with a lack of support from government and international organizations, Abyan has virtually no prevention measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Hayel Saeed Anam Foundation, named after one of Yemen’s most prominent businessmen, donated $200,000 to support frontline staff in Sana’a and Aden, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday.

The funds will help cover the salaries of health care workers at two hospitals in Sana’a and two hospitals in Aden.

As of Thursday, the total number of officially reported cases in areas outside Houthi control was 278, including 57 deaths and 11 recoveries, according to Yemen’s National Emergency Committee for Coronavirus. The Houthis have reported four cases, including one death and two recoveries.

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